Today, 8.02.11, is ‘WiFi day’ as the numeric date resembles the IEEE 802.11 standards, the technical name for the technology more commonly known as ‘WiFi.’ Since today is WiFi day, it got me thinking not only about Wifi, but also about wireless internet connectivity in general (WiFi and cellular technologies), how they impact how we consume and deliver content without ties, and how we apply social media process to tailoring the ways we reach mobile consumers.
WiFi and Cellular as they impact content delivery.
WiFi and mobile connectivity have exploded over the last few years and it has changed the way we deliver content to our users. WiFi technology allows people to break away from being tethered to their desks. The freedom offered by laptops, tablets, and other mobile devices allows people to consume content more casually and more often. Many of us no longer dedicate time solely to ‘the internet.’ Laptops are on coffee tables, desks in schools, coffee shops, and even restaurants and bars. Cell phones and cellular-connected tablets are with people wherever they are. With the freedom to connect virtually anywhere the way we consume content has changed.
All this untethered, mobile freedom allows sites to reach people more often, and in more ways than ever. Social networking sites like Facebook, Google +, and Twitter allow nearly-passive consumption of information through feeds, streams and ‘sparks’ included in these social networking platforms. We don’t need to type in the name of a website to read about relevant topics, – the content is distributed to us through these channels, even if we were not actively seeking it.
To a website owner or content creator, this passive consumption comes with great responsibility. It is crucial to ensure the content that is being distributed is engaging, relevant, and unique in order to prevent it from blending in with other ‘noise’ that comes with social networking sites. Developing and using a sound social media process as well as an on-site action plan for addressing mobile users is critical to the experience of mobile visitors when viewing your content. This is not a how-to guide for building a great mobile experience, but rather a spark to start thinking about creating social and mobile processes for your site and your content, if you haven’t already, or a reason to take another look at the content being delivered on your site and the mechanism for delivering the content to your mobile users.
Of course mobile internet consumption is more than just social networking sites. Direct mobile traffic is another powerful way to deliver content to users on the go. It has become the de facto standard (and best practice) to serve users an alternative version of the site optimized for mobile devices. More often than not this mobile version is simply the main site stripped down to the basics and formatted to fit smaller screen sizes and technologies that may not always support the latest web technologies. This is a great first step, but we are definitely on the verge of being able to cater an even greater, truly unique mobile experience to our readers.
With basic geo-location information we can cater content based on the physical location of our readers. In some situations, knowing a user is mobile will allow us to reprioritize the information that we have on the site. An address and telephone number may be the most important information for a user on a mobile site, but may not be as important for a user on a desktop. As with anything else, knowing the audience is key.
What do you like to see while browsing on a mobile device or on the go? If you are a content creator, do you cater to your mobile and on-the-go users? Leave a comment and keep the spark going.